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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Botswana decides to allow big game hunting !!

Bharat Ane Nenu  starring Mahesh Babu was released in 2018   directed by Koratala Siva.  The film is about Bharat, a student unexpectedly becoming the leader of Andhra Pradesh and his attempts to reform politics.  No comparison between a Cine portrayal – elsewhere in Botswana,   Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi became s the fifth President of Botswana, in  2018. He has also served as Minister of Education since 2014, and previously he was Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration – has now sought to redefine the lives of elephants !!

Botswana—widely considered a safe haven for elephants in Africa—appears to be suffering from its own surge in poaching, according to aerial survey work published today in the journal Current Biology. “We have a significant poaching problem—let’s deal with it,” says Mike Chase, who, as the director of the Botswana-based nonprofit Elephants Without Borders, led the latest aerial survey study as well as earlier elephant counts, including the 18-country Great Elephant Census. “We were warned by conservationists in other countries that the poachers would eventually come down to Botswana, and now they’re here,” he says.

Botswana is estimated to be home to more than 130,000 savanna elephants—about a third of Africa’s remaining population. Until recently, the southern African country had largely escaped the scourge of elephant killings for ivory, still in high demand in China and elsewhere. The African Wildlife Foundation, an international conservation nonprofit, estimates that as many as 35,000 elephants are killed each year in Africa. Zambia’s Sioma Ngwezi National Park, for example, had about 900 elephants in 2004 but only an estimated 48 just over a decade later—losses likely driven by ivory poaching. And in the Ruaha-Rungwa region of south-central Tanzania, the elephant population is estimated to have fallen from more than 34,000 in 2009 to 8,000 by 2014.

The Botswana count in Current Biology appears on the heels of last month’s announcement by the government that it will lift its five-year-old hunting ban on all species—a controversial move that will allow renewed trophy hunts of elephants and other animals. Such hunts, the government said, are needed because dangerous encounters between people and elephants have been increasing and may threaten livelihoods, among other reasons. It's one of the world's last sanctuaries for African elephants. But now, Botswana says, its population of the animals will be fair game for hunters. The southern African nation, which is home to 130,000 elephants -- more than anywhere else on the continent -- imposed the ban in 2014 to help declining numbers recover from poaching and shrinking habitats.

Recently, Botswana's government scrapped the ban, shrugging off criticism from some environmental groups and conservationists. It cited increasing conflict between humans and elephants, as well as the need to monetize conservation efforts. "Conservation is in our DNA. We have never been reckless. Our responsibility towards conservation has not changed, but our responsibility to the people has not changed as well," said Kitso Mokaila, minister of environment, wildlife and tourism in a press conference in the capital, Gaborone. He maintained the ban had always been temporary. Earlier this year a cabinet group in Botswana recommended elephant culling and a factory to can elephant meat. The proposals drew a major backlash.

"If it is all about community and wildlife conflict, there are dozens and dozens of options that can be used before one hauls out the guns," a Conservationist  told CNN. "Many people would be willing to put up a lot of money and ideas to help communities before we resort to the killing of animals." The African elephant is classified as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List.  

Hunting for big game, including elephants, is common practice in the neighboring countries of southern Africa. The governments of Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa assert that well-managed hunting can help preserve the herds by channeling profits into conservation, and protect ecosystems from the destructive power of large elephant populations. Hunting, what ? ~ mere killing by rich people armed with sophisticated machinery, shooting and killing animals that have no protection and what is great about this mindless act ??

There is an ongoing debate about the actual worth of hunting licenses compared to tourism dollars. The Botswanan government said it would grant up to 400 licenses per year for shooting elephants. Overall, tourism generates far more jobs and revenue than hunting, according to photographic safari operators and former hunters. Many scientists and conservationists also feel that protecting elephants is a moral imperative. "It's a morally repugnant issue, the equivalent of shooting dogs, cats, whales or great apes," said Save the Elephants founder Iain Douglas-Hamilton. Multiple studies show that elephants are highly intelligent, sentient creatures that are aware of what happens in their environment, and express fear and stress when other members of their species are killed. "Hunting is an outdated practice which has no place in the modern world," Kenyan wildlife conservationist Paula Kahumbu told CNN. .. .. .. and sadly, the so called hunters,  prefer the biggest bulls, with the largest tusks.  That can skew sex distribution and affect elephant ecology, knocking out the strongest and most knowledgeable of the species out of the gene pool.

Of course, it is far less evil that  Poaching, that potentially could wipe out populations. And in some parts of the continent, it already has. The main difference between Poaching & Hunting is – first is considered illegal activity by people trying to make money by killing the latter is legal killing by rich people willing to spend money for the same activity – for the hapless animal it makes no difference !

Right now, the sale of ivory is banned by an international agreement on trade in endangered species.But Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, with the support of South Africa, are making a fresh appeal to lift restrictions on the sale of raw ivory. Those countries account for more than half of the world's elephants and have millions of dollars' worth of stockpiles that they say could be sold and plowed back into conservation. Several weeks ago, as they discussed lobbying against the ivory ban at a summit in Botswana, the host government presented the visiting leaders with elephant feet stools. It was an odd gift for a country trying to push its conservation credentials. All these point to a  shift under President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who has taken a markedly different stance on conservation and hunting than his predecessor.

As it happens the move to lift the ban is tried to be projected by PR pundits as if a move  lauded by locals claiming  wild elephants are ruining their livelihoods.  In a statement detailing the reversal, Botswana’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism cited the increasing prevalence of human-elephant conflict, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ inability to respond to animal control reports in a timely fashion, and the toll on communities ill-equipped to handle the unimpeded roaming of these roughly 12,000-pound creatures. The ministry further said that reinstatement will be performed “in an orderly and ethical manner.”  The exact nature of this “ethical” implementation remains unclear, as do the long-term ramifications of the decision for both Botswana’s human and pachyderm residents.

To protect the pachyderms from trophy hunters and ivory poachers, former President Ian Khama imposed the hunting ban in 2014. An ardent conservationist, he also introduced a highly controversial “shoot to kill” policy for stopping poachers, which included arming anti-poaching units with military-grade weapons and approved shooting known poachers on sight. Both policies have been eliminated under the current administration. The elephant hunting ban helped Botswana emerge as a “conservation success story.” Soon after taking office, Khama’s successor President Mokgweetsi Masisi tasked a committee with re-evaluating the ban. A committee of local authorities, affected communities, non-profits, tourism organizations, conservationists and other so-called “stakeholders” was created to assess the ban’s status. In February, the committee released its recommendations, which included lifting the ban, implementing “regular but limited elephant culling,” and, most controversially, establishing the practice of canning elephant meat for pet food—a suggestion that has since been abandoned. Rather than advocating for outright culling, Masisi’s government now prefers the term selective “cropping.”

As elephant expert said , “There’s no such thing as ‘ethical hunting.’ It’s an oxymoron.” Africa loses some 30,000 elephants to ivory poaching every year, but Botswana, according to National Geographic’s Bale, has so far “largely escaped” the crisis. An elephant is killed on the African continent once every 15 minutes,  Botswana was the last refuge for these elephants, and suddenly that refuge is going to start hunting them. Many environmentalists fear that the lifted ban is simply a precursor to renewed efforts aimed at legalizing the ivory trade. In purely economic terms, suspending the ban carries the risk of hurting Botswana’s tourism industry, which is the country’s second highest source of foreign income after diamond mining. Currently, Botswana markets itself as what BBC News deems a “luxury safari destination,” attracting wealthy visitors eager to interact with elephants and other exotic animals in their native habitat. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, agriculture and land development have driven African elephants into an increasingly smaller area over the past several decades.

So like the story of African story of ‘deer getting up every day knowing that it has to run faster than the fastest of chasing cheetah’ – elephants in Botswana will have to get up thinking of hiding themselves from the modern gadgets of licensed game hunters ! Sad !!  .. .. every now and then a Western journalist would raise a hue of elephants being chained, confined and not properly treated in India, would they not read, know – travel to these places, cry for saving the same hapless mammoth elephant !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Aug 2019.
Pic of impressive elephant : credit facebook page of Botswana President Masisi

Thursday, August 15, 2019

VB is no more !!! Sad !!

57 certainly not the age ! ~ my heart still wishes that the news it untrue !

Have not seen many from Tamil Nadu play for India – Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik is almost out; will Vijayshankar get another chance is not known – most talented Ravi Ashwin is getting a raw deal; while Washington Sundar plays in T20 – there was a time when this man opened with Krish Srikkanth and then with Woorkeri Venkat Raman.

In all he played only 7 ODIs – ended up making 88 in total with highest of 53 – certainly not doing justice to his talent – could never fathom why he did not succeed at that level. – the man Vakkadai Biksheswaran Chandrasekhar born on 21.8.1961 – played for Tamil Nadu and Goa at Ranji level. Was a real swash buckler !

It was a real thriller of match in Oct 1988 which brought VB Chandrasekhar into National reckoning.   ROI captained by Arunlal made 433 with good contributions from IB Roy 60; Navjot Sidhu 86, Srikant Kalyani 93; Jeshwant 62.  S Vasudevan took 5 for 116.  Krish Srikkanth leading TN made 57 and TN were all out for 226.   Gopal Sharma took 6/69.  ROI made the blunder of batting again and this time were shot out for 132 in less than 50 overs with Vasudevan taking 4 and Srikkanth taking 3 for 14.  Chasing a target of 340, Srikkanth and VB Chandrasekhar plundered at will and TN made the required runs in 79 overs brining out a remarkable victory which remains etched in memory.  Hirwani and Gopal Sharma were hit to all parts of Chepauk.  Watched that innings at Chepauk when most of my friends had started for home with no hope of TN doing something in that match.

He  scored 4,999 runs from 81 matches when he retired from first class cricket. Remember that he made his debut against New Zealand at Visakhapatnam – Krishnamachari Srikkan took 5 wickets and scored 70.  At Vadodara, he opened with Srikkanth again, scored 53. Later in 1990 played his last 2 matches against Australia at  Christchurch & Hamilton – and was never to play for India again.

He would ever be remembered as the man who picked up Mahendra Singh Dhoni.  He once wrote of his train journey to Hyderabad Ranji Trophy debut.  His father was a leading lawyer and he made Ranji debut at the Secunderabad Gymkhana. Abdul Jabbar lost the toss Abdul Azeem scored a triple hundred. Khalid Abdul Qayyum and Vijay Mohanraj also get a hundred. Immanuel Rajkumar, also made his debut and would not like to remember that match. In 1988 in that Irani Cup match at Chepauk, chasing a mammoth 340 to win, VB  scored 119. He scored his hundred from 56-balls. It was then the fastest in First-Class cricket by an Indian.

In 1997, Chandrasekhar opened his VB Cricket Academy.  He served as state and national level selector. He served as a Chairman of State Selection from 2001 to 2007. He was the national selector in between 2004 and 2006.

Sad to know that the gentle person  V.B. Chandrasekhar passed away in Chennai today. He was 57 !  He had a great role to play in TNPL too.  His commentary was pleasant and enjoyable

Tamil Nadu and his innumerable followers will miss him. I was a great fan of his and FB friend of him too.

Feeling sad – S. Sampathkumar
15.8.2019.@ 22:15 hrs.

Indian Independence ~ some history at Lal Qila (Red Fort)

In his first address to the nation from Red Fort after this year's Lok Sabha elections and the sixth consecutive one on Independence Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modiji  today spoke about issues like Article 370, Article 35A, criminalising triple talaq, welfare schemes for the farmers and announced the launch of a new Jal Jeevan Mission to provide potable water.  On the economic front, PM Modiji  expressed confidence that India will become a $5 trillion economy in the next five years. "From 2014 to 2019, we became a $3 trillion economy. Before that, in the last 70 years, the country was a $2 trillion economy. We added $1 trillion to the economy in just five years. Now we are looking forward to making the nation a $5 trillion economy," said Narendra Modi in his speech. He also stood up in support of industrialists, saying that wealth creators should not be eyed with suspicion and that they are country's wealth and should be respected.

Every Independence Day, Prime Minsiter delivers address from the ramparts of Red Fort.  Here is some history that the Nation should be knowing !

·         Heard  of drama film – Raag Desh ?
·         Heard of Gurbaksh Singh Dillon and his connection with LaL Qila ?
·         Were the British merciful and did India benefit because it was subjugated to foreign rule ??

                     Red Fort [Lal Qila]  has Lahori Gate and Delhi Gate.  Images of the fort have  featured prominently on postage stamps. It is associated with history. The vandalism carried out in 1857 after the suppression of the rebellion makes it a site remembered for national resistance.  In Nov  1945, the Red Fort was selected as the venue for the court martial of Shah Nawaz Khan, PremSahgal and Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon. These were three token individuals, selected from the many thousands of Indian officers and troops who had joined the Indian National Army and fought against the British during the Second World War. But in our History books, we did not read of Indian freedom struggle but more of mercy of Cawning, kindness of Atlee, administrative skills of Dalhouse, coronation of King George, Delhi Durbar and more .. .. not on INA and other freedom fighters. 

Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon (1914 –2006) was an officer in the Indian National Army (INA) who was charged with "waging war against His Majesty the King Emperor". Along with Shah Nawaz Khan and Prem Kumar Sahgal, he was tried at the end of World War II in the INA trials that began on 5 November 1945 at Red Fort.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor and the bombing of Singapore on the early morning of 7 Dec 1941, the United States declared war on Japan. The Japanese forces completely destroyed the squadrons of the Royal Air Force at Sungei, Alor Star, and Kota Bharu airfields. On 11 Dec 1941, 1/14th Punjab Regiment fought a pitched battle at Changlun near the Thai frontier. Dhillon commanded the Headquarters Company with his C.O. Colonel Fitzpatrick. The Battle of Changlun went on for eight hours, before ending in defeat. The town of Alor Star had also fallen. But in Dec 1941, Dhillon fell ill afflicted by Malaria and hospitalised at Singapore.  The Battle of Singapore concluded on 15 Feb 1942 resulting in the British Forces in Singapore surrendering unconditionally to the Japanese Army under General Yamashita.

The Indian National Army trials (INA trials), which are also called the Red Fort trials, were the British Indian trial by courts-martial of a number of officers of the Indian National Army (INA) between Nov 1945 and May 1946, for charges variously for treason, torture, murder and abetment to murder during World War II. The first, and most famous, of the approximately ten trials held in the Red Fort in Delhi. In total, approximately ten courts-martial were held. The first of these, and the most celebrated one, was the joint court-martial of Colonel Prem Sahgal, Colonel Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, and Major General Shah Nawaz Khan. The three had been officers in the British Indian Army and were taken as prisoners of war in Malaya, Singapore and Burma. They had, like a large number of other troops and officers of the British Indian Army, joined the Indian National Army and later fought in Imphal and Burma alongside the Japanese forces in allegiance to Azad Hind. These three came to be the only defendants in the INA trials who were charged with "waging war against the King-Emperor" as well as murder and abetment of murder. Those charged later only faced trial for torture and murder or abetment of murder. These trials attracted much publicity, and public sympathy for the defendants who were considered patriots of India and fought for the freedom of India from the British Empire. Outcry over the grounds of the trial, as well as a general emerging unease and unrest within the troops of the Raj, ultimately forced the then Army Chief Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck to commute the sentences of the three defendants in the first trial.

During the trial, mutiny broke out in the Royal Indian Navy, incorporating ships and shore establishments of the RIN throughout India from Karachi to Bombay and from Vizag to Calcutta. The most significant if disconcerting factor for the Raj was the significant militant public support that it received. At some places, NCOs in the British Indian Army started ignoring orders from British superiors. In Madras and Pune, the British garrisons had to face revolts within the ranks of the British Indian Army.  Another Army mutiny took place at Jabalpur during the last week of Feb 1946, soon after the Navy mutiny at Bombay. This was suppressed by force, including the use of the bayonet by British troops. It lasted about two weeks. After the mutiny, about 45 persons were tried by court martial. 41 were sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment or dismissal.

Whether as a measure of the pain that the allies suffered in Imphal and Burma or as an act of vengeance, Mountbatten, Head of Southeast Asia Command, ordered the INA memorial to its fallen soldiers destroyed when Singapore was recaptured in 1945  After the war ended, the story of the INA and the Free India Legion was seen as so inflammatory that, fearing mass revolts and uprisings—not just in India, but across its empire—the British Government forbade the BBC from broadcasting their story.

Today on 73rd Independence Day of the Nation, we remember all those martyrs whose blood, bravery, patriotism and sacrifice only ensured that we got freedom and live in a freeland.  Jai Hind !!

                                   RaagDesh (Love thy country) is a 2017 Indian historical action drama film directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia and produced by Gurdeep Singh Sappal and Rajya Sabha TV.  The film is based on Indian National Army trials, the joint court martial of Indian National Army officers. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Aug 2019.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Independence of Nations ~ history of Balochistan

In our Nation some fringe parties speak of Kashmir and Independence after abrogation of article 370  without understanding the finer aspects and with no knowledge of History – pity them, for they know not, what they speak ! ~ and we have not read History properly in our school days. 

How many of them will condemn this - Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will celebrate the Independence Day of Pakistan (August 14) in PoK where he is scheduled to address the legislative assembly after India revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. According to the Pakistan Prime Minister's office, Imran Khan, accompanied by several ministers, will fly to Muzaffarabad on August 14 and hold an all-parties' conference there. He will be presented with a Guard of Honour. .. .. this is only to needle India ! - here is some history for those minions ! ~ that of Balochistan – one of the districts of Pak.

The Khanate of Kalat was a princely state that existed from 1666 to 1955 in the centre of the modern-day province of Balochistan, Pakistan. Prior to that they were subjects of Mughal emperor Akbar.  Ahmedzai Baloch and Brahui Khan ruled the state independently until 1839, when it became a self-governing state in a subsidiary alliance with British India. After the signature of the Treaty of Mastung by the Khan of Kalat and the Baloch Sardars in 1876, Kalat became part of the Baluchistan Agency.  It was briefly independent from 12 Aug 1947 until 27 Mar 1948, when the Khanate was occupied by the new Dominion of Pakistan.

To go back in history, the Pāratarajas was a dynasty of Parthian kings,  from the 1st century to the 3rd century. The seat of their capital was Balochistan. Centuries later the place was under the Durrani Empire which at its peak, ruled over modern-day countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan, as well as some parts of northeastern Iran, eastern Turkmenistan, and northwestern India including the Kashmir region. After the death of Nader Shah in 1747, the region of Kandahar was claimed by Ahmad Shah Durrani. From there he began conquering Ghazni followed by Kabul. After the death of Ahmad Shah in about 1772, his son Timur Shah became the next ruler of the Durrani dynasty who decided to make Kabul the new capital of the empire, and used Peshawar as the winter capital.

The Third Battle of Panipat took place on 14 Jan 1761 at Panipat, about 60 miles (97 km) north of Delhi, between a northern expeditionary force of the Maratha Empire and invading forces of the King of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Abdali, supported by two Indian allies.  The battle is considered one of the largest and most eventful fought in the 18th century,  and has perhaps the largest number of fatalities in a single day reported in a classic formation battle between two armies.  The forces led by Ahmad Shah Durranidestroyed several  Maratha flanks.

The modern day Balochistan is one of the four provinces of Pakistan. It is the largest province in terms of land area, forming the southwestern region of the country, but is the least populated. Its provincial capital and largest city is Quetta.Balochistan shares borders with Punjab and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Iran, Afghanistan and Arabian Sea.  The main ethnic groups in the province are the Baloch people and the Pashtuns. Largely underdeveloped, its provincial economy is dominated by natural resources, especially its natural gas fields, estimated to have sufficient capacity to supply Pakistan's demands over the medium to long term.

In the 15th century, Mir Chakar Khan Rind became the first Sirdar of Afghani, Irani and Pakistani Balochistan. He was a close aide of the Timurid ruler Humayun, and was succeeded by the Khanate of Kalat, which owed allegiance to the Mughal Empire. Later, Nader Shah won the allegiance of the rulers of eastern Balochistan. He ceded Kalhora, one of the Sindh territories of Sibi-Kachi, to the Khanate of Kalat. Ahmad Shah Durrani, founder of the Afghan Empire, also won the allegiance of that area's rulers, and many Baloch fought under him during the Third Battle of Panipat. Most of the area would eventually revert to local Baloch control after Afghan rule.

During the period of the British Raj from the fall of the Durrani Empire in 1823, four princely states were recognised and reinforced in Balochistan: In  1883, the British took control of the Bolan Pass, south-east of Quetta, from the Khan of Kalat.  In 1893, Sir Mortimer Durand negotiated an agreement with the Amir of Afghanistan,  to fix the Durand Line running from Chitral to Balochistan as the boundary between the Emirate of Afghanistan and British-controlled areas

Balochistan contained a Chief Commissioner's province and four princely states under the British Raj. Three of the princely states, Makran, Las Bela and Kharan, acceded to Pakistan in 1947 after independence. But the ruler of the fourth princely state, the Khan of Kalat, Ahmad Yar Khan, who used to call Jinnah his 'father',  declared Kalat's independence as this was one of the options given to all of the 565 princely states by British Prime Minister Clement Attlee. Kalat finally acceded to Pakistan on March 27, 1948 after the 'strange help' of All India Radio and a period of negotiations and bureaucratic tactics used by Pakistan.  The signing of the Instrument of Accession by Ahmad Yar Khan, led his brother, Prince Abdul Karim, to revolt against his brother's decision in July 1948. The Princes fought a lone battle without support from the rest of Balochistan.  Jinnah and his successors allowed Yar Khan to retain his title until the province's dissolution in 1955.

Insurgencies by Baloch nationalists took place in 1948, 1958–59, 1962–63 and 1973–77 – with a new ongoing insurgency by autonomy-seeking Baloch groups since 2003. Many thousands of the Baloch still support the demand for autonomy.  History has it that Balochistan was forcibly accessed years later after the Independence of India and Pakistan ~ and state which made such force in taking regions, now talks of internal matter of India aka Kashmir

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th Aug 2019.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Uganda sociology ~ Indian connection !!

Western World depicts most African countries as suffering from poverty, disease and lawlessness.  Have near heard or read of this place as named the Pearl of Africa because of it’s a unique natural destination as compared to other African countries basically because of its large forested area composed of national parks and wildlife reserves giving home to a large numbers of primates including chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, butterflies and birds. Its  national parks offer a variety of wildlife which includes – Lions, buffalo, elephant, leopard, giraffe and other several species of animals not found anywhere in Africa. The country comprises of 10 national parks with a number of wildlife and forest reserves. Including Bwindi national park, Mgahinga national park, Semliki, Queen Elizabeth, Budongo, Kanyiyo and Pabidi forest reserves, Murchison falls national park and several others.  It is also blessed with water bodies including – Lake Victoria, Kyoga, Albert, Edward and several crater lakes especially around the Rwenzori foothills. ~ that is Uganda

Buganda is a subnational kingdom within Uganda. The kingdom of the Ganda people, Buganda is the largest of the traditional kingdoms in present-day Uganda, comprising all of Uganda's Central Region, including the Ugandan capital Kampala. Following Uganda's independence in 1962, the kingdom was abolished by Uganda's first Prime Minister Milton Obote in 1966.  Kampala is the capital and largest city of Uganda. 

Uganda, is bordered by South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo,  Rwanda, and  Tanzania.   Lake Victoria is  shared with Kenya and Tanzania.  Uganda also lies within the Nile basin, and has a varied but generally a modified equatorial climate. Uganda takes its name from the Buganda kingdom, which encompasses a large portion of the south of the country, including the capital Kampala. The people of Uganda were hunter-gatherers until 1,700 to 2,300 years ago, when Bantu-speaking populations migrated to the southern parts of the country.   Beginning in 1894, the area was ruled as a protectorate by the UK, who established administrative law across the territory. Uganda gained independence from the UK on 9 October 1962.

The official languages are English and Swahili, although "any other language may be used as a medium of instruction in schools or other educational institutions or for legislative, administrative or judicial purposes as may be prescribed by law”. The current president of Uganda is Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who came to power in January 1986 after a protracted six-year guerrilla war. The previous ruler was notoriously known across the globe - Idi Amin Dada Oumee,  a Ugandan military officer who served as the President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Popularly known as the "Butcher of Uganda," he is considered one of the most brutal despots in world history. During his years in power, Amin shifted from being a pro-western ruler enjoying considerable support from Israel to being backed by Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko, the Soviet Union, and East Germany. As Amin's rule progressed into the late 1970s, there was increased unrest against his persecution of certain ethnic groups and political dissidents, along with Uganda's very poor international standing due to Amin's support for the terrorist hijackers in Operation Entebbe. Reportedly many Indians fled his country and came back to India.

This report in BBC [is BBC losing its credibility for being brazenly anti-India !]  makes an interesting read for it states that the  latest census data on migration to India says the number of people from Uganda living in India has risen rapidly, by tens of thousands of people. One Migration expert explains why this is likely to be the result of a major bungle by officials.  In the 1890s, around 40,000 Indians, mostly Punjabis, were brought in as immigrant workers to build the Uganda Railway connecting Mombasa in Kenya to Kampala in Uganda.  They were forced to leave the country in 1972 on the orders of military ruler Idi Amin, who accused them of "milking Uganda's money".   The good and bad aspects were captured in Hollywood dramas such as The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) and The Last King of Scotland (2006).

Now, in 2019, a third connection has been established between India and Uganda - and rather dramatically, it has come from a 2011 Census of India. The exhaustive exercise is conducted every 10 years, but some of the data is being released only now.  India's population grew by 181 million people to 1.21 billion over the decade to 2011, according to the census. As per the recently released migration statistics, the number of Indians who reported Uganda as their last place of residence shot up from 694 in 2001 to 151,363 in 2011. The rise was starker among women - 339 to 111,700 - than men - 355 to 39,663. After the regional nations of Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, it is Uganda in Africa that appears to be the source of the highest immigration or return migration to India. This could either refer to Ugandan nationals who have moved to India or Indian nationals who were living in Uganda and have returned. Unlike a century ago, the Punjabi connection is minuscule. In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and the eastern state of Bihar, the number of Ugandan immigrants or return migrants rose from five in 2001 to 94,704 in 2011.

The census questionnaire is a short document and census-takers have to write the name of the country on the sheet if people report their place of last residence as being outside India. These sheets are then scanned and a computer software tabulates the data to generate tables. These spreadsheets are then uploaded to the web and disseminated to the public.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
13th Aug 2019.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Red Fort ~ and analysis of what Indian Prime Ministers speak on Independence Day

“At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom…’  the  historic speech marked India’s independence from British rule and simultaneously made the Red Fort in Delhi a politically significant monument!

It is at the Red Fort, Prime Ministers make their Independence Day speeches every year.   Red Fort has been a strategically important monument through the ages, due to Delhi being the capital city for a good part of the Mughal rule in India.  In 1638, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan moved the capital of his empire from Agra to a newly constructed city in Delhi that he called Shahjahanabad. Along with the construction of this new city, he laid the foundations of his palace, the Red Fort or Lal Qila. This massive walled citadel with red sandstone walls took nearly a decade to complete.

Red Fort has Lahori Gate and Delhi Gate.  Images of the fort have  featured prominently on postage stamps. It is associated with history.  The vandalism carried out in 1857 after the suppression of the rebellion makes it a site remembered for national resistance.  In Nov  1945, the Red Fort was selected as the venue for the court martial of Shah Nawaz Khan, Prem Sahgal and Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon. These were three token individuals, selected from the many thousands of Indian officers and troops who had joined the Indian National Army and fought against the British during the Second World War. Initially fighting on the British side, they had been taken prisoner by the Japanese in Malaya, and agreed to change allegiance. Freed from jail, they joined the newly constituted INA and assisted the Japanese attack on Burma in 1945. Many members of the INA were captured by the British during that campaign. The trial of three of the officers, on charges of ‘waging war against the king’, provoked huge public anger.

In 2018, the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji addressed the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on 72nd Independence Day, devoting  maximum time of speech in presenting the report card of his government. Making a pitch for retaining power in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a picture of “rising” India and contrasted it with what he termed as “policy paralysis” during the UPA rule. That was Modiji’s fifth speech at Red Fort after NDA came to power in 2014. “When 125 crore people move towards achieving a goal, there is nothing that cannot happen. In 2014, the people of the country did not just stop at forming the government. They moved together towards nation-building and are continuing to do so,” he said. The PM said also said that he was an ‘impatient agent’ of change.

My dear countrymen, I convey my best wishes to all of you on this auspicious occasion of Independence Day. Today, the country is brimming with self-confidence. The country is scaling new heights by working extremely hard, with a resolve to realize its dreams. Today’s dawn has brought a new spirit, a new enthusiasm, a new zeal and a new energy with it. My dear countrymen, in our country, there is a Neelakurinji flower which blooms once every 12 years. This year, Neelakurinji is in full bloom on the hills of Southern Nilgiri like the Ashok Chakra (the wheel of Ashoka) in the Tricolour on our Independence Day.   My dear countrymen, we are celebrating this festival of independence at a time when the Mount Everest has been conquered many times; several brave-hearts and many of our daughters have unfurled the Tricolour atop the Mount Everest. However, during this festival of independence, I will remember our young tribal children from remote forest areas, who have unfurled the Tricolour on the Mount Everest, further enhancing its glory.

Today, the country is full of self-confidence. The country is scaling new heights by working extremely hard with a resolve to scale new heights. The next year will mark 100 years of the Jalliwanwallahbagh massacre. The masses had sacrificed their lives for the country's freedom; and the exploitation had crossed all limits. The Jalliwanwallahbagh incident inspires us of the sacrifices made by those brave hearts. I salute all those brave hearts from the bottom of my heart. India has become the sixth largest economy of the world.

            The country is experiencing change in the last four years. The country is progressing with new zeal, enthusiasm and courage.  Today the country is constructing twice the highways and four times more houses in the villages.          The country is producing record foodgrains and manufacturing record number of mobile phones. The sale of tractors has reached a new high ~ the Prime Minister said.

To those who often try to paint the Prime Minister on the grounds of religion ~ here is what this interesting report from Live Mint has to say .. ..  Narendra Modi spends less time on religion and caste compared to his predecessors, but talks more about poverty and the poor in his speeches.

Some excerpts from that article in Live Mint.  Independence Day (I-Day) speeches have for long been an occasion for prime ministers to showcase the achievements of their government, and to reiterate their commitment to the process of nation-building.  A Mint analysis of the content of all Independence Day speeches by prime ministers since 1991 reveals that while certain topics, such as nationalism and rural India (or Bharat), have remained consistently popular, some new themes, such as the economy and infrastructure, have gained in prominence over the past two decades. The analysis is based on the frequency of mentions per 10,000 words in the Independence Day speeches of each prime minister. Only prime ministers who have completed a full five-year term were considered in this analysis: P.V. Narasimha Rao (1991-1996), Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-2004), Manmohan Singh (2004-2014) and Narendra Modi (2014-present).

Modi’s Independence Day speeches are the longest in this period at an average of about 8,000 words. His predecessors, Singh and Vajpayee, delivered much shorter speeches.  The nature of the occasion perhaps demands a nationalist rhetoric and, hence, words related to the country, or the nation, have been equally frequent across the time period under consideration. Such references spiked in Vajpayee’s post-Kargil speech (129 per 10,000 words) in 2000. Another topic that has remained evergreen over time is Bharat or rural India, with nearly every speech containing an average of 50 references per 10,000 words. While other prime ministers mentioned education infrequently, Singh consistently spoke about education in his Independence Day speeches.  Interestingly, references to religion and caste have been fading over the past 30 years, with the highest references to religion made by Rao at the peak of the Ram Janmabhoomi agitation, demanding construction of a Ram mandir at the disputed Babri Masjid site.

Modi’s speeches have retained the thrust on nationalism and focus on rural topics, but on other issues, he makes far fewer references compared to his predecessors. Even on themes related to religion and caste, Modi seems to have spent relatively less time than his predecessors. The most striking feature of Modi’s speeches is the theme he has spoken much more than any other: Poverty.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th Aug 2019.

Selection bungle - UK selectors put shot putter in 4 x 400 m relay race !

The 2001 Border Gavaskar Trophy produced chilling moments – Aussies won the first test at Mumbai, India down and almost at Kolkatta, scrambled back with classy 281 of VVS Laxman and then clinched Chepauk test to win the Series 2-1. Harbhajan Singh was the star bowler.  Do you know or remember that at concluding Test at Chepauk, India played 3 spinners – opened the bowling with Zaheer Khan and Sourav Ganguly !  .. .. and selectors toyed with left-arm spinners – in the 1st it was Rahul Sanghvi (his only test); in the 2nd Venkatapathi Raju and in 3rd Nilesh Kulkarni & Sairaj Bahutule.  Incidentally it was the last test for Nilesh who in his debut in Sri Lanka in Colombo in Aug 1997 took a wicket off his very first ball ! .. .. becoming only the 12th  bowler in Test history  to take a wicket with his first ball ~ but  his dream start was to turn into a nightmare: he sent down 419 more balls without taking another wicket, and conceded 195 runs.

In the present ICC World Cup 2019,  MSDhoni, who had pretty much batted at No. 5 all throughout the World Cup, was surprisingly sent in to bat after Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya in the semi-final against New Zealand, which raised a lot of eyebrows.  India lost in the Semi finals to New Zealand and immediately there were reports that  BCCI not happy with selectors’ dealing of India’s No. 4 problem. Indian selectors, led by MSK Prasad toyed and sort of blundered handling India’s No. 4 slot.  Test opener KL Rahul walked out to bat at number four in India’s first ICC World Cup 2019 match even though the selectors led by MSK Prasad had clearly stated that all-rounder Vijay Shankar was picked for that spot for the showpiece event as a three dimensional player. After Shikhar Dhawan’s injury, the team management decided to bring Rahul as the opener.  Rishab Pant went from nowhere and played straightaway.  And when Shankar was ruled out, they flew in opener Mayank Agarwal to fit into the middle-order. Clearly, Prasad and his team  had no clear thoughts.  But even after a  dismal show in one of the most important positions in Indian cricket, the five wise men -- Prasad, Devang Gandhi, Gagan Khoda, Jatin Paranjpe and Sarandeep Singh --  continue in their position !!  ~ this post is on how Selectors bungled – not in Cricket but in athletics.

In 2017 at London, Irony was at its cruellest as Usain Leo Bolt pulled up hurt in his final competitive race to end, in a cry of pain and agony, a decade of dominance that is unrivalled in the history of track and field. Bolt failed to finish the men's 4x100m relay race of the World Athletics Championships  after he pulled a hamstring at the home straight.  The astonishing turn of events marred what was expected to be a golden farewell.  Running the final race of his career, the 30-year-old Bolt, after taking the baton from his Jamaican teammate Yohan Blake, suffered cramps on his left hamstring as he tried, in vain, to chase down the British and American rivals in the last lap of the race.

The 4 × 400 metres relay or long relay is an athletics track event in which teams consist of four runners who each complete 400 metres or one lap. It is traditionally the final event of a track meet. At top class events, the first 500 metres is run in lanes. Relay race runners typically carry a relay baton which they must transfer between teammates. Runners have a 20 m box (usually marked with blue lines) in which to transfer the baton.  As runners have a running start, split times cannot be compared to individual 400 m performances. Internationally, the U.S. men's team has dominated the event, but have been challenged by Jamaica in the 1950s and Britain in the 1990s.

The Olympic records for the event are 2:55.39 for men, set by the United States in 2008, and 3:15.17 for women, set by the Soviet Union in 1988. The women's record is also the world record for the 4×400 metres relay.  At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil-   men's 4 × 400 metres relay competition was held at the Estádio Olímpico João Havelange.  The Bahamas entered as the defending Olympic champions while United States had won both the 2013 and 2015 World Championships since then.  After the United States won gold in the women's 4x400-meter relay, the men's relay team did the same.  La Shawn Merritt ran the anchor leg for the U.S. and crossed the finish line at 2:57.30. A gold was far from assured for the United States until Merritt took the baton. The 30-year-old was perhaps using his bronze-medal finish in the 400 meters as motivation.  He opened up a healthy lead on the competition and closed particularly well in the final 20 meters. Botswana was running second for most of the race. Rather than using its fastest runner for the anchor leg, the country had Isaac Makwala run the first leg. That allowed Botswana to hang with the U.S. early on, and the duo of Karabo Sibanda and Onkabetse Nkobolo helped keep the team in the thick of the medal hunt.  Kevin Borlee nearly willed Belgium to a bronze medal with an incredible run in the anchor spot, and he fell to the track upon crossing the finish line. However, he was unable to chase down Chris Brown, who won bronze for the Bahamas.

~ now read this .. .. a shambolic administration error caused Britain to be disqualified from the 4x400m relay final at the European Team Championships on Sunday night after they inadvertently named a shot putter to run the first leg. It had been planned that Rabah Yousif, a 2014 European relay gold medallist, would lead off Ethan Brown, Lee Thompson and Martyn Rooney in Poland. But somehow British team officials contrived to instead enter Youcef Zatat, a shot putter who was a squad reserve and not in the country. The team hierarchy were on Sunday night investigating how the gaffe happened.

Performance director Neil Black said: ‘It is gutting for the athletes involved. There was an error with the declaration process and we are exploring exactly what happened. ‘We’ll be reviewing with those involved in detail over the next day or so. The athletes were amazing. They were informed and took it on the chin. ‘It is the worst way to finish the event and we apologise to those who were looking forward to seeing the GB men’s 4x400m team doing battle as we know they would have competed with excellence.’  Rabah Yousif was supposed to lead off Ethan Brown, Lee Thompson, Martyn Rooney in Poland. 

Britain finished the event in fifth place in the wake of the blunder, having started the final day of the three-day competition in fourth place. Poland took the title on home soil.  Yousif has been part of 4x400m squads that took medals at each of the past three European Championships as well as bronze medals at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships. .. .. and what would one do with the selectors for such a blunder !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th Aug 2019.

General Insurance Industry in India - posting losses !!

Think Insurance ~ Think LIC – was the caption of those days.  In old Tamil movies -  if Hero or Heroine were to land up in the metropolis breaking away from their village – they would land up in Train (Egmore railway station) – for sure, you get to see – Beach, Central Station, red coloured Pallavan Transport (PTC) buses running in Mount Road and then there was that skyscraper (!) ,...... the tall 14 storeyed LIC Building............. the landmark building of those years, housing the southern regional headquarters of the Life Insurance Corporation of India.  Wiki describes the first skyscraper of Chennai as 177 ft tall; the tallest building in India when it was inaugurated in 1959.  LIC  marked the transition from lime-and-brick construction to concrete columns in the region. It certainly no longer is the tallest building .... you have so many in Chennai now.

For us Insurance was different – it was General Insurance – me joined Oriental when it has just shed ‘fire & general’ to become Oriental Insurance Co Ltd – and in my office I could see old stationery with name ‘The Oriental Fire & General Insurance Co Ltd’.  For those not associated with insurance industry,  General insurance or non-life insurance policies – covers not life (life to a limit extent of PA / travel / health Policies) but covers properties (both movable and immovable - including automobile) provide payments depending on the loss during the policy period arising out of specified perils.  The most common being : Fire, Motor, Engineering and Marine policies.  In the United Kingdom, insurance is broadly divided into three areas: personal lines, commercial lines and London market.  In India, each Insurer has their own way of specifying their segment – there are verticals and other set-ups – some complex, some oft changing !

At the dawn of 20th century, many insurance companies were founded. In the year 1912, the Life Insurance Companies Act and the Provident Fund Act were passed to regulate the insurance business. The Life Insurance Companies Act, 1912 made it necessary that the premium-rate tables and periodical valuations of it is stated that   National Insurance Company  was founded in 1906.  The Government of India issued an Ordinance on 19 January 1956 nationalising the Life Insurance sector and Life Insurance Corporation came into existence in the same year. The Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) absorbed 154 Indian, 16 non-Indian insurers and also 75 provident societies.  On similar lines, in 1972 with the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act  passed by the Indian Parliament,  General Insurance business was nationalized with effect from 1 Jan 1973. 107 insurers were amalgamated and grouped into four  PSU Insurance companies. 

The wheel was to complete another circle.   The process of re-opening of Insurance sector began in  1990s.  In 1993, the Government set up a committee under the chairmanship of RN Malhotra, former Governor of RBI, to propose recommendations for reforms in the insurance sector.  Following the recommendations of the Malhotra Committee report, in 1999, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) was constituted as an autonomous body to regulate and develop the insurance industry. IRDA opened up the market in August 2000 with the invitation for application for registrations. Foreign companies were allowed ownership of up to 26%. In Dec 2000, the subsidiaries of the General Insurance Corporation of India were restructured as independent companies and at the same time GIC was converted into a national re-insurer. Parliament passed a bill de-linking the four subsidiaries from GIC in July, 2002.

Today there are more than 30  general insurance companies including the ECGC and Agriculture Insurance Corporation of India.  Of the non-life Insurers, there are six public sector insurers, including  two specialised insurers namely Agriculture Insurance Company Ltd for Crop Insurance and Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India for Credit Insurance.  There are 5 private sector insurers underwriting policies exclusively in Health, Personal Accident and Travel insurance segments.  

Insurers would often talk of ‘NCOR’ - Net combined operating ratio is the key ratio of how efficiently premium levels were set. NCoR compares expenses (claims, commission, administration) against Net earned premium for the given period. NCor of less than 100 denotes Profit where as NCor higher than 100 would mean Loss. With this lengthy background, today’s newsitem in Times of India makes a sad reading ! PSU Insurers loss

Three public sector insurance companies have dragged down the non-life industry into a Rs 44-crore loss in FY19. National, Oriental Insurance and United India have together reported losses of Rs 4,200 crore, which is more than the collective profits of the remaining 23 companies. The three unlisted state-owned insurers were the last to announce their financial results. The Government is eyeing a merger and a subsequent listing of these companies. However, due to their poor financial performance, they will require a capital infusion. The performance of the PSU insurers in FY19 is in sharp contrast to their financials in FY18.

In FY18, the four PSU insurers — including the listed New India Assurance — reported a combined net profit of Rs 2,543 crore. This, taken with the private industry’s profits of Rs 3,922 crore, translated into a Rs 6,341-crore profit for the industry in that year. In FY19, the four PSU insurers reported a combined loss of Rs 3,628 crore despite New India turning in a Rs 645-crore profit.

The private insurers have reported a net profit of Rs 3,584 crore — a drop of 8%. Industry officials say that profits have declined partially because the industry did very well in crop insurance in the previous year, which was not the case in the year under review. Also, underwriting losses in property insurance have been very high, prompting the General Insurance Corporation to hike rates in some segments.

The reason for the poor performance of the PSU companies is their huge underwriting loss, which is the excess of claims over premium. In India, most insurers do report underwriting losses but make up for it through investment income. This is because premium is required to be collected up front and companies earn interest or investment income on them. In FY19, only Bajaj Allianz, Universal Sompo and SBI General reported underwriting profits of Rs 18 crore, Rs 43 crore and Rs 82 crore respectively.  The PSU insurers reported an underwriting loss of Rs 18,490 crore — a 47% increase over the Rs 12,507-crore loss in FY18. The private industry also saw underwriting losses jump 62% to Rs 2,864 crore from Rs 1,762 crore in the previous year. However, since the margins of the private companies were better, they still managed to turn in better profits.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th Aug 2019.

The post was based on news article in Times of India chennai edition on 13.8.2019.  However, today [14.8.19] – they have carried out a corrigendum. :

The report ‘3 PSUs drag non-life insurers into red’, carried in the August 12 edition, inadvertently reported Oriental Insurance Company’s nine-month loss of 634 crore as the loss for the entire financial year ended March 2019. The actual loss reported by the company for FY19 stood at 294 crore. Consequently, the Indian non-life industry reported a net profit for FY19, and not a 44-crore loss as reported.

What to say of the quality & reliability  !!!! 

corrected @ 14.8.2019.